Sunday, 13 September 2015

Sound and vision

My family keep on reminding me that I've done very well to get to my mid-50s before having the need for reading glasses. It first became apparent that things were not as they had always been whilst examining the egg-trays in the moth trap. My attempts to focus on the smaller moths was at first a minor irritant and then something that needed addressing. This did not, however, get in the way of birding - although having never possessed the pin-point visual acuity of an Alfrey or Browne (both Beddington boys), I can still function perfectly well. Having said that, a recent trend is for me to lose butterflies and moths in flight against a backdrop in vegetation. Not all the time, but time enough to make it a regular event.

It is often said that a birder knows when their hearing is going when they lose the ability to pick up the high-pitched calls of crests and the reeling song of a Grasshopper Warbler. I know that I can still do both of them, with a Gropper this Spring being quite a distance away. But an event last week got me a touch worried. At Dungeness, most mornings saw a small number of Tree Pipits calling overhead. I stood there on several occasions when a birder beside me called them out. I hadn't heard a thing. This species had never caused me any problem before. After several days of this I started to worry that maybe my hearing was starting to reduce. But then on morning five one flew over my head and I heard it call. Relief was instantaneous! However, it is likely that I am indeed losing the ability to pick up certain calls at a distance.

So, at 56 I need reading glasses and probably struggle a bit to pick up high-pitched calls at a distance. On the other hand I can still walk for miles and keep going for days. I'm not doing too badly...

5 comments:

  1. That is pretty much the same age that I started to need glasses, mostly to improve reading, though I could read the paper without them reasonably OK. Gradually over the years (I'm now 68) very short range focusing i.e, reading and looking at something in the hand, has needed the aid of glasses more and more. Hearing is OK but walking for longer than 2-3 hours isn't much fun as arthritic feet start to seize up.

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    1. That's pretty good for 68 Derek! I'll settle for that.

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  2. Steve, have you ever had your ears irrigated (or syringed as it was formerly known)? I had mine done a fortnight ago and can now hear a Siskin flying over New Romney 2 miles away!

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    1. I have considered that Paul. It would open up all manner of aural string!

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  3. Paul, think what an asset you would of been as a coastal observer in WW2, wouldn't of needed radar.

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